If the book of Nehemiah teaches us anything, it’s that there will always be opposition to the work of God. How can we overcome the attacks of the enemy? Read on to learn from the life of Nehemiah!
I’ve been reading Nehemiah, and I’ve noticed a few things.
First, from the moment Nehemiah headed out to do what God had called him to do, he faced opposition.
But do you know what?
He wasn’t surprised. In fact, he expected that would be the case. That’s why he asked the king for letters to the governors of the provinces through which he would travel. (Nehemiah 1:7)
He knew the work he was going to do would not be popular with the people around him.
When we set out to follow Christ, we can expect the same thing.
Jesus himself told us so. He said he was sending us out as sheep among wolves. Does that sound like a pleasure stroll to you?
You see, the enemy is real, and when we are part of what God is doing, he won’t like it.
He can’t stop God, but he can surely try to stop us.The enemy can't stop God, but he can surely try to stop us. #Nehemiah #BibleStudy Click To Tweet
Nehemiah’s encounters with the enemies around him give us some insight into just how the devil might try to do it, as well as how we can overcome the attacks of the enemy.
How to Overcome the Attacks of Distraction
One of the most successful ways the enemy tries to stop us from doing the things God’s called us to do is also one of the most simple.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been lured away from what I need to do by other things I “need” to do.
It’s easy to let days or even months pass before I realize I never followed through on something I felt led to do.
Does that ever happen to you?
It might happen to me on an almost daily basis, but let me tell you, it didn’t happen to Nehemiah.
His determination was stronger than his distractions.
When Sanballat summoned him away from the work, he replied, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3)
Nothing turned him from his task.
How to Overcome the Attacks of Deception
When distraction didn’t work, Nehemiah’s enemies tried deception.
They whispered what ifs and distributed doubts.
Nehemiah recognized lies; he didn’t listen to them. Neither should we.We need to recognize lies, not listen to them. #Nehemiah #BibleStudy Click To Tweet
Sanballat went so far as to to tell Nehemiah that all the nations were saying that Nehemiah was planning a revolt. He dangled doubts about the king’s response to the building of the wall.
Sanballat spoke lies, and Nehemiah called him on it.
I love his response. He said, “Nothing like what you are saying is happening; you are just making it up out of your head.” (Nehemiah 6:8)
Oh, how I need to say that to myself sometimes because, you see, Nehemiah teaches us that opposition to God’s work can come from without AND within.
The nobles of Judah were under oath to Tobiah, and they tried to persuade Nehemiah that this enemy did good things, all the while reporting back everything Nehemiah said to them. (Nehemiah 6:17-19)
I would have been wondering who to trust, but it seems Nehemiah already knew.
He turned to men of integrity. He chose his brother Hanani and a man named Hananiah, who the Bible tells us “feared God more than most men do.” (Nehemiah 7:2)
How to Overcome the Attack of Dissension
As soon as the work had gotten well under way, the Israelites started having as much trouble within the wall as they were having without.
The work had to halt while Nehemiah sorted out the personal problems of his people. Because do you know what? They were people. Just like the ones in our churches and our schools and our offices and our homes.
They weren’t perfect, and neither were their relationships.
Nehemiah knew the problems had to be addressed before the work could be completed so he dealt with it openly and honestly and right away.
By dealing quickly with the dissension, he didn’t let it cause division.
He nipped it in the bud and kept right on building
How to Overcome the Attacks of Discouragement
From the moment the work began, Nehemiah’s enemies hurled insults at him, mocking him and his people and the work they were doing.
They were the voices that said, “The job’s too big” or “Your strength’s too small.” They pointed out every point of weakness and questioned every advance.
Instead of answering his critics, Nehemiah cried out to God, praying: “Hear us, our God, for we are despised. Turn their insults back on their heads.” (Nehemiah 4:4)
And then he kept right on working.
Nehemiah knew the task was too big for him, but he trusted that God would grant success. His confidence wasn’t shaken because it was never in himself.
How to Overcome Direct Attacks
Of course, his enemies didn’t like the fact that no matter what they did, the wall kept being built.
So they took a more direct approach. They said, “Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.” (Nehemiah 4:11
So, Nehemiah ordered half the men to work and half of them to protect the ones who did. They all kept their weapons with them. (Nehemiah 4:16-18)
As I’ve considered this in light of ministry, I can’t help but thinking that we often need to do the same. As we obey God, we need others to join our work by covering it in the protection of prayer.
And, just like the builders worked with their swords at their sides, we need the constant protection of the “sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)
Through study and prayer, we can know God’s will for us and learn to trust him like Nehemiah did.
It was his faith in God that truly helped him overcome the attacks of the enemy, and our faith will do the same.
After all, Ephesians 6:16 says, “In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Thank you so much for joining me today for Encouraging Word Wednesday! I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever studied the book of Nehemiah? What stood out to you? What have you learned about overcoming the attacks of the enemy? What tips do you have?
Be sure to join us for the Encouraging Word Wednesday linkup!
Michele Morin says
One of my favorite features of Nehemiah is the way he handled opposition. He sasses his enemies right back (“Why should I leave my work and come to you???” Why indeed!) and stays focused.
We can learn so much from his mind set.
Lauren Sparks says
A perfect biblical example of our faith being strong when we are not. laurensparks.net
Deb Schroeder says
A great reminder of how we are to respond to attacks of the enemy.
I was definitely feeling attacked over the last few weeks and all of these were so helpful. Thank you!
Donna Reidland says
What a powerful, truth-filled post. Sadly, the devil often doesn’t even have to move past distraction. We are so easily entertained and focused on things with no eternal value. May God help us to be focused on God’s purposes as Nehemiah was. Thanks for sharing.